Insurance, insights, and acrobats: RIMS 2017

The annual RIMS conference is always a worthwhile annual reunion for the insurance industry. It’s an enormous event that gathers carriers, brokers, and tech companies to network and (dare I say) have a good bit of fun! For those who’ve been, they know: the RIMS parties are something else. This year’s event at the Pennsylvania Convention Center here in Philadelphia treated attendees to acrobats in the main atrium, a champagne fairy, a Billy Idol concert and remarks from Michael J. Fox.

But the conference isn’t short on substance, either. There were valuable educational sessions, tasty meals and inspiring speakers. It also gathers the insurance and business media to meet in one place. From a public relations perspective, that is an incredible opportunity. It is the time to connect key reporters and industry thought leaders to engage in constructive conversations about risk and insurance.

We used the opportunity to say “hi” to old friends on the media side and introduce them to clients as future resources. We also facilitated some on-site interviews to make sure our clients got in front of the RIMS audience – a key group for anyone looking to get their message across to broker, carriers, and more.

In the case of one of our attending clients Pennsylvania Lumbermens Mutual Insurance, we also got the opportunity to see things from the exhibitor perspective as we captured social media content for them. Check out this video of a critical loss control tool they are using with their customers demonstrated at their exhibit booth.

Social media was a key component of the conference, down to the #RIMS2017 hashtag displayed boldly in giant letters in the entrance to the convention center. Screens throughout the convention center compiled tweets with the hashtag, and people were quick to pose for photos as the “I” in RIMS (like we did).

Sam_Eileen at RIMS2017_2

The RIMS conference may be primarily an education and networking opportunity for the insurance pros involved, but for us insurance PR pros, these opportunities to connect with reporters and create social media content were just as important. Thanks to the RIMS organization for a valuable conference. See you in San Antonio!


Get Heard With Fewer Words

As people get more and more news from blogs, Facebook posts and tweets, content is becoming shorter and shorter. In fact, new guidelines put out by the Associated Press request that stories be no more than 500 words. Simply put, people want to read something short, sweet and to the point.

Fletcher Prince / Foter / Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC BY 2.0)

The same is true with journalists and editors. They get hundreds of emails a day, so chances are they aren’t interested in reading a long, detailed pitch and press release from you. They want to know the important facts as quickly as possible.

If your story isn’t getting heard, try making brevity and succinctness your focus. Here are some ways to do that:

Media Pitches:

  • Have a strong, attention-getting and short subject line
  • Make the media pitch a short and intriguing summary of the story in the body of the email
  • Be sure to focus on the timeliness and the local connection of the story, if applicable
  • Encourage interaction by providing multiple ways for the journalist to contact you, should they want more information

Press Releases:

  • Write more like a journalist, focusing on the news aspect of the story
  • Include the Who, What, When, Where, Why, and How in the first couple paragraphs – that way if that’s the only thing they read they still get the gist of the story
  • Always limit press releases to one page
  • Save them as PDFs so they can be universally opened and send them as an attachment to your pitch email
  • Attach pictures if you have them that journalists can use to go with the story

Another suggestion is to use your media contact database to its full potential; at Kimball Communications our database tells us an editor’s preferred form of contact. Some prefer phone, email or Twitter, this is a good thing to use in order to follow up with them and gauge their interest in your story.

Public Relations Explained


Media relations is just one aspect of a well-rounded pubic relations practice. Pictured here, the author is conducting a training session with a client.

“So what exactly do you do?”

I get this question a lot. Seriously. A lot.

It seems, despite the Public Relations Society of America’s best efforts, far too many people still have very little understanding of public relations as a profession. More often than not, folks have grabbed hold of one aspect of the profession and decide that is the full breadth and scope of the field.

“You help your clients get into news stories, right?”

The above statement describes PR about as completely as asking someone at Apple if they just “sell phones.”

Media relations is one important aspect of PR, but it doesn’t cover the profession by half.

Our job is to be a true strategic partner with our clients. We help them communicate with all of their audiences, including stockholders, management, employees, customers, local communities, industry influencers, government officials, and the media. Within each of those groups, there are countless subgroups we must consider, often outside the interest and view of the media.

We help to build networks for our clients, introducing them to community and business leaders, government officials, special interest groups, employee advocates, industry insiders and online communities. We conduct research and write position papers. We offer insights and suggestions during the development of marketing campaigns, and we advise human resource professionals on messaging to employees of the company. We partner with lawyers when client-related legal matters are referenced in the media, and we advise on, and integrate with, social media strategies and messaging. We collaborate on planning that ranges from celebratory events to disaster scenarios, and we interface with multiple departments to drive and/or support ongoing brand reputation management practices.

PR pros play many parts: advocates, diplomats, strategists, trusted advisors, communicators and content managers, with our clients. On any given day, we might play one or all of the above roles with a few extras thrown in just to keep us sharp.

So, with respect to the PRSA and their efforts to define the practice, the answer I’ve developed in the last few years feels a little less jargony and appropriate for the cocktail party set as well. In 25 words, what I do is this:

“I help clients communicate better, with honesty and integrity, to those most important to them. Sometimes I also get them in the Wall Street Journal.”